Microsoft is preparing to go on the offensive against Apple on yet another front, promising to tackle the iPad in the near future. Of course, the Cupertino-based company has quite a head start, with a successful product already on the market from the first try, with over 3 million units sold, while the Redmond giant, although having explored the territory of tablet PCs earlier than Apple, enjoyed little to no success. At Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer revealed that the company is hard at work with its hardware partners to produce a range of iPad rivals, namely Windows 7 slates
“We've had Windows 7 on, tablets and slate machines now for a number of years, and Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they've -- they sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell, let me just be clear about that. We think about that. We think about that in competitive sense. And for us, then, the job is to say, Okay, we have a lot of IP, we have a lot of good software in this area, we've done a lot of work on ink and touch and everything else -- we have got to make things happen,” Ballmer said.
Microsoft’s CEO recalled the time when the software giant got into the netbook game, also a tad late. By the time that the Redmond company started offering Windows for netbooks, with the devices really taking off, Linux was the dominant operating system. However, it took Microsoft almost no time at all to displace the open source market and to dominate the netbook market with Windows. Ballmer says that Microsoft needs to to do it again, this time against Apple’s iPad.
“Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they're bringing them to market. And, yeah, you're going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we've got the application base, we've got the user familiarity. We've got everything on our side if we do things really right,” he said.
Of course, Microsoft has already promised that Windows 7 slates are coming. One again, Ballmer did not say just when will the first iPad rivals start shipping. Customers should expect the new Windows 7 slates by the end of the year.
“Some of you will say, well, when? When? And I say, As soon as they're ready. They'll be shipping as soon as they are ready. And it is job one urgency around here. Nobody is sleeping at the switch. And so we are working with those partners, not just to deliver something, but to deliver products that people really want to go buy,” Ballmer promised. Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta are available for download here.
Follow me on Twitter @MariusOiaga.